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Wed, 20 Nov 2019 16:26 - Updated Wed, 20 Nov 2019 16:25

Lusaka Protocol was signed 25 years ago

Luanda - Angola marks on Wednesday, November 20, the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Lusaka (Zambia) Peace Protocol between the Angolan government and the former rebel movement UNITA.

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At the time of the signing of the Lusaka Protocol (Zambia)

Photo: Cedida

The Lusaka Protocol was a peace treaty negotiated in the capital of Zambia following the failure of the Bicesse Agreement, signed in Portugal in May 1991 by the Angolan Government and UNITA, which made it possible to hold general elections in Angola.

The elections, which took place on 29 and 30 September 1992, were won by the MPLA with 54 percent against 34 percent of the votes, while the then President of the Republic, José Eduardo dos Santos, obtained 49.7 percent of the votes and Jonas Savimbi 40.7 percent, with a need for a second round between them.

However, the former UNITA leader refused to participate in the second round of the election and that same year returned to war after mobilizing his forces, which were supposed to be demobilized, some elements composing the Single Army - Angolan Armed Forces. (FAA) - along with personnel from government forces - and others from the National Police.

With the war spreading throughout the national territory in a bloody way, undermining the expectations of peace of the population, the belligerents, supported by the international community, mainly by the mediation (UN) and the troika of observers (United States of America, Portugal and Russia) began a rapprochement with meetings in the Angolan province of Namibe, Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and Abidjan (Côte d'Ivoire).

Among these meetings, hosted by Margareth Anstee, first Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Angola (arrived in the country in 1991), Abidjan in mid-1993 was the longest, 45 days, but failed due to strong differences between the parties to the conflict.

In October 1993, in the heat of serious military clashes and countless deaths, UNITA agreed to resume talks with the Government and, in November of that year, in Lusaka, after an exploratory meeting of about a week, negotiations began, under the auspices of UN Secretary-General Alioune Blondin Beye's new Special Representative and the United States, Portugal and Russia.

The negotiations culminated in the signing of the Lusaka Protocol on 20 November 1994 in the Zambian capital. Signatories of the document were then Foreign Minister Venâncio de Moura and former UNITA Secretary General Eugénio Ngolo Manuvakola.

Firstly, the treaty established a ceasefire, the formation of a Government of Unity and National Reconciliation (GURN) with all political forces with parliamentary seat based on the results of the 1992 elections, the inauguration of the deputies of the UNITA in the National Assembly, the demilitarization of this organization, the holding of the second round of presidential elections, among others.

The protocol lasted only about four years. Systematic violations of the agreement heightened suspicions among the signatories, confirming fears that Jonas Savimbi's refusal to be present at the treaty signing ceremony presaged a dramatic outcome of the agreement.

In fact, the absence of Jonas Savimbi at the signing ceremony was surprising in the negative, given that his presence and former Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos were expected to confer greater reliability, credibility and, above all, a political engagement at the highest level.

The skepticism with which the signing of the Lusaka Protocol was viewed as a consequence of the disregard that Jonas Savimbi had viewed it was revealed when, in 1998, after a fragile four-year peace, UNITA rekindled the war.

The upsurge in armed conflict forced government forces to unleash a military offensive in December 1998, culminating in the conquest of several UNITA strongholds.

The war continued until the death in combat of UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi on 22 February 2002 in Lucusse, eastern Moxico province, enabling the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on 4 April 2002, Complementary to the Lusaka Protocol.

The signing of this pact ended almost 30 years of civil war in Angola. Now a day, Angolans enjoy effective and lasting peace, focusing on the essentials: the consolidation of democracy and the socio-economic development of the country.

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